Field Reports: Tracking system pinpoints the cause

Constant downtime and overtime were stifling Oregon dairy plant.

With SIMS, it takes this machine operator 10-15 seconds every hour to record his downtime data.
Sunshine Dairy Foods' growing business was straining plant capacity. Constant downtime and overtime were wearing on everyone at this Portland, Oregon plant.

Operations Manager Rick Wolf and Paul Arbuthnot, president of the family-owned dairy, knew throughputs could be increased if they could accurately identify and quantify the causes of downtime.

Laborious note-taking and downtime estimates were not providing the information needed. Machine operators tried to specify and quantify the problems in logbooks during breaks, but their efforts lacked accuracy and objectivity.

Arbuthnot distrusted "efficiency experts," with their stopwatches and quick-fix gimmicks. But when Art Lowery, president of SIMS, (Short Interval Measurement System) approached Arbuthnot about a new output-based downtime tracking system, he was skeptical but willing to listen.

SIMS uses data-gathering techniques that have been used for years, but employs software algorithms to sort and consolidate the data into meaningful reports. The SIMS reports provide feedback in the form of daily reports and flexible queries that can be run for any timeframe. SIMS query reporting system narrows the causes of downtime to the two most common or pressing problems.

Since Sunshine uses self-directed work teams in its yogurt operation, Lowery, Wolf and Arbuthnot met with the production crews to explain how the SIMS system works, what the forms and charts look like, and how it would be customized to suit Sunshine's operation. Based on input from the teams, forms and charts were constructed to measure production throughput and common downtime causes. Production Scheduler Ty Resleff handled data entry. Training and data gathering began at 6:30 the following morning.

After an hour of training, it was obvious that Machine Operator Brigg Neilan understood how to gather the data. When asked how he liked the system he said, "It's really easy. It takes me about 15 seconds every hour, and that's easier than racking my brain at lunch to remember what happened during my shift."

Second shift data gathering went smoothly with Machine Operator James Tester, who said, "I can see exactly where I am against the standard all night. I think we might beat day shift!"

The following morning Resleff input the data in 10 minutes and the first daily report was printed. "I knew changeovers were a problem, but this is right in my face," he said.

The SIMS reports provided Sunshine Dairy Foods with direct labor costs associated with specific downtime causes. It provided justification for leasing an additional 40,000 square foot warehouse to facilitate "run to stock" instead of "run to order."

Arbuthnot sums it up this way, "SIMS has changed the way we look at our business."

For more information:
Victoria Lyons
503-246-2341 or 1-888-407-2823

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.